Simulation of the Elastic and Ultimate Tensile Properties of Diamond, Graphene, Carbon Nanotubes, and Amorphous Carbon Using a Revised ReaxFF Parametrization

BD Jensen and KE Wise and GM Odegard, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A, 119, 9710-9721 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.5b05889

In light of the enduring interest in using nanostructured carbon materials as reinforcing elements in composite materials, there is a significant need for a reliable computational tool capable to predict the mechanical properties, both elastic properties and properties at the point of fracture, in large-scale atomistic simulations. A revised version of the ReaxFF reactive force field parametrization for carbon, ReaxFF(C-2013), was recently published and is notable because of the inclusion of density functional theory (DFT)-derived mechanical data for diamond and graphite in the fitting set. The purpose of the present work is to assess the accuracy of this new force field for predicting the mechanical properties for several allotropes of carbon, both in the elastic regime and during fracture. The initial discussion focuses on the performance of ReaxFF(C-2013) for diamond and graphene, the two carbon forms for which mechanical properties were included in the parametrization data set. After it is established that simulations conducted with the new force field yield results that agree well with DFT and experimental data for most properties of interest, its transferability to amorphous carbon and carbon nanotubes is explored. ReaxFF(C-2013) is found to produce results that, for the most part, compare favorably with available experimental data for single and multiwalled nanotubes and for amorphous carbon models prepared over a range of densities. Although there is opportunity for improvement in some predicted properties, the ReaxFF(C-2013) parametrization is shown to generally perform well for each form of carbon and to compare favorably with DFT and experimental data.

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